after Dorothea Grossman

During the pandemic, after he was laid off, it was his idea
to forage for edible weeds around Queens when our food grew scarce.

From the stoop, I would watch him crouched on one knee,
his bare hands between telephone poles,

pulling up green stars from the control joints
under our mailbox full of clover mites & commercial flyers.

I almost forgot how sprawl could be so quiet.

When he returned inside, he rinsed off the stalks,
placed a rolled lot on his tongue and then on mine.

He mentioned how “sticky” foods could be a delicacy
in other cultures, as I turned my back and coughed them out.

And later in the evening, he read to me about how
indigenous women prevented pregnancy by drinking

cleaver tea, as he handed me a tall cup of it swirling with honey.

Copyright © 2022 by Michelle Whittaker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 31, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.